Philippines-based law firm Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra held its fourth and most recent Law and Tech Summit at the Shangri-La, Fort, Bonifacio Global City on November 10-11. The event, entitled “Metamorphosis: Unlocking transformation through Investment, Innovation, and Law,” is a one-of-a-kind gathering of top industry leaders, premier tech companies, and government sector officials who shared their valuable insights on interoperability for investments, breakthroughs, and policies.
The two-day summit aims to rally all sectors to work together and pursue the firm’s mission of merging law and tech whilst also coming up with solution-based dialogues that will help further innovate the country’s fintech ecosystem.
Government support was evident at the summit as Senator Sonny Angara, an 18-year legislator who supported and authored 330 laws, delivered the opening keynote address. The senator, who is also the chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, specified the country’s continuous efforts in enacting laws that will make the Philippines a favorable region for investment attributable to low taxation rates and investment incentives. He mentioned that 2021 was a watershed year for investments as the country saw a substantial increase in deals amounting from $47 million in 2017 to over $1 billion in 2021.
Senator Angara pointed out that this year’s startup investments accounted for 12% of the total foreign direct investments or FDIs in the Philippines. Startup companies such as KUMU, GrowSari, CloudEats, Tonik, Coins.ph, NextPay, Avion, DashLab, MadEats, and Hive Health are some of the companies that are being held accountable for the positive development. He quoted a Bloomberg article that mentions the Philippines as Southeast Asia’s best-kept MNA secret.
Senator Angara was also keen to mention President Ferdinand Bong Bong Marcos’ administrations’ eagerness “to invite investors to come over and to reap the benefits from recent efforts of the government and the private sector to work together to make the business climate more favorable.”
Day one of the summit delved into Private Equity, Venture Capital, and Fundraising. The first panel discussion gathered representatives from leading Venture Capital firms in the country. The panelists included Paulo Campos III, Managing General Partner Kaya Founders, an early-stage investment vehicle that invests in the next generation of high-impact entrepreneurs in the country and co-founder of Zalora PH; Nico Sibal, Foxmont Capital Partners Director Portfolio Management; and Winchell Wong, Gentree Fund Associate. The panelists were joined by Atty Edcel Tupaz, Gorriceta Partner, and Atty Timothy Goh, Dechert Partner, to shed light on the legal and regulatory framework.
Atty. Mark Gorriceta, Gorriceta’s Managing Partner who moderated the discussion, emphasized the importance of imparting their knowledge on Philippine law and regulatory landscape in tech and fintech, as well as conducting proper fundraising. Campos, meanwhile, noted that the Philippines’ strategic geographical location and strong acceleration of consumer and digital adoption trends ahead of other South East Asian countries is what makes the country a viable place for VCs.
The second panel discussion stressed on effective ways to conduct ethical fundraising. The esteemed panelists come from various Venture Capital and Private Equity firms that have successfully raised millions of dollars for investments. The panelists include Alasdair Thomson from Sierra Madre, Robert Yu from Creador, and Juan Carlos Camera from Navegar. Representing the law side of the spectrum are Atty. Thomas Kim from Dechert and Atty Kristine Torres from Goricetta.
Dechert Atty. Dean Collins moderated the discussion and stressed the robust growth of Southeast Asian fundraising. However, he also noted that the Philippines VC and PE market is relatively nascent compared to other countries in the South East Asian region.
Atty Torres agreed and suggested ways to attract more foreign direct investments in the country. She noted that continued support from government agencies regarding investment policies, as well as enabling favorable investment licensing and regulatory framework, are crucial factors in driving investment interest in the Philippines.
Thomson also made a good point by saying, “development financial institutions are essential in getting these things going, it’s part of their remit, which is trying to develop capital markets in developing nations.”
In the third panel discussion, Atty. Gorriceta returned as moderator to further discuss successful fundraising with an impressive line-up of speakers that included George Royeca, CEO of Angkas; Mark Velasquez, CFO of Kumu; Steve Sy, CEO of Great Deals and Reymund Erwin Rollan, CEO of Growsari. Joining the panel discussions are Dechert’s Atty. Maria Pedersen and Atty. Siew Kam Boon.
Atty. Gorriceta worked closely with the said companies in acquiring their licenses as well as conducting fundraising for them. In the discussion, the Gorriceta lawyer reminded the audience to join day 2 of the summit, which will include tech and fintech companies such as Union Digital, GoTym, and Open Finance, among others.
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